Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Henry Rollins ain't no detective.

The West Memphis 3. Posted by Hello

When I was a freshman in college, I was, not unusually, a political radical. I believed all sorts of shit, some of which I still do. With my nasty orange bleached hair and riot cop t shirt with "Officer Friendly?" across it, I went out one day to a Free Mumia rally to make politically active friends and meet cute girls with purple hair.

At that rally, I bought a copy of Mumia's book, a slim volume that cost $30. After chatting up the older radicals and failing to score any radical chicks, I went back to my dorm room, read Mumia's book in one sitting and sat back to realize: that man is guilty as sin. While reading his own book was enough to give me suspicion, a little more research over the years has convinced me.

It was one of my first "great disillusionments" that temper young liberalism into calmer views. And over the years, it seems that every celebrity criminal that I've actually taken the time to research was not, in fact, horribly railroaded into jail. Leonard Peltier? Probably guilty. Sacco and Vanzetti? Probably guilty (Sacco more than Vanzetti).

The last of these celebrity causes that I clung to was the West Memphis 3. It's easy to see why: as I mentioned above, I was a strange young man, even stranger when my mohawked atheism was contrasted with my conservative hometown. From that standpoint, it was easy to find sympathy for a bunch of black-clad misfits suffering under the thumb of podunk local yokels. As someone who had seen firsthand the intolerance of these folks, it was easy to believe the story as it was told in the film Paradise Lost (not available on DVD?).

When I saw Paradise Lost II, however, I had the same whiff of suspicion that I felt when I read Mumia Abu Jamal's book: their own propaganda made them look guilty. The first thing that came through was the way that the filmmakers, supposed champions of tolerance, were so eager to play up to the white-trash stereotypes of their urbane audience. And there was something alarming in the way that the accused so eagerly embraced the stories put forth by the first film. Honest people's stories don't change.

There are always far more websites for the accused than against them in these cases. But in the case of the West Memphis 3, finding the opposition's side of the story is all but impossible. Even though this case as been appealed up and down the court ladder, and every conviction has been upheld, it's very difficult to find out why. This lengthy chat room discussion is the best thing I could find.

The easiest way to make a snap judgment in these cases (and snap judgments are in these days) is to ask: which side addresses the specific claims of the opposition? Go to the pro-and anti-Mumia sites to see a perfect example of what I'm talking about. The Free Mumia site makes a series of statements. The anti-Mumia site refutes them. The Free Mumia site continues to make the same statements without acknowledging the problems with it. Snap judgment: Mumia did it (but, really, he did it. Read both websites if you have a shred of doubt).

Is the West Memphis 3 argument slam dunk for the conviction? No. But anyone thinking of giving money to the West Memphis 3's defense fund owes it to themselves (and to the victims) to read the other side of the story before they give their money to three people who very well could be child killers. Have you any information on the case that didn't come from the defendant's supporters? If not, it's probably not a good idea to give them any money.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I commend your exposing the truth about this case. If I have to see one more lie on the net about these murders, I will scream. Thanks for a refreshing, truthful view. Excellent writing.

8:43 AM  
Blogger BeatDogg said...

I see a big difference between the Mumia case and the WM3 case - namely evidence. Virtually all of the evidence against the WM3 comes from a "confession" that police extracted from a mentally handicapped teenager. It is highly suspect at best, whereas Mumia's guilt is obvious to anyone who cares to look past the bandwagon celebs and armchair revolutionaries and examine the facts.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone's entitled to their opinion but I suggest you do a little more research before spouting off your "facts". Have you read "Devils Knot" by Mara Leveritt? I suggest you do. She was a journalist who has followed the case right through thus far and there are just so many details in the book that have never been revealed elsewhere. it' really is a case that you need to thoroughly research before drawing your conclusion.

2:10 PM  

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